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Sen. Menendez’s dinner with co-defendants, Egyptian officials under scrutiny as bribery trial continues

Federal prosecutors are trying to show jurors evidence of favors the senator offered in return for bribes.

Chris Keating

Jun 4, 2024, 4:13 PM

Updated 18 days ago

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Jurors in the federal bribery trial of Sen. Bob Menendez heard on Tuesday about the FBI surveillance of the senator while he was having dinner in 2019 at Morton’s Steakhouse with his co-defendants. That dinner was in Washington D.C. and an FBI agent was sitting at a table close by.
That agent told jurors she heard Nadine Menendez, the senator’s wife, say to the table as a whole, “What else can the love of my life do for you?”
Sitting at that table were Sen. Menendez, Nadine, Wael Hana, an Egyptian official and one other person so far unidentified.
Federal prosecutors are trying to show jurors evidence of favors the senator offered in return for bribes.
That 2019 dinner took place soon after Hana, the owner of ISEG Halal in Edgewater, gained a contract with Egypt to be the only company certifying halal meat exported from the United States. The allegation from federal prosecutors is that Menendez made that deal happen.
He's also accused of signing off on a deal for Egypt to get military aid from the U.S.
Attorneys for Menendez argue that the dinner was innocent. They say it was nothing more than the senator getting together with constituents - something he does at that exact restaurant hundreds of times throughout the year.
Jurors also saw photos of $79,000 of cash found by the FBI in a safe deposit box belonging to Nadine. The cash was in bank envelopes. Some of which had the name Nadine written on them.
Defense attorneys for Menendez tried to distance their client from that cash by asking another FBI agent who was testifying, “In your review of all of the envelopes, did you see the name Bob on the envelope” Did you see Menendez on an envelope?”
The special agent answered, “No.”
Testimony will continue on Wednesday.
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